Respiratory Tract Infections and Voice Quality in 4-Year-old Children in the STEPS Study

J Voice. 2019 Sep;33(5):801.e21-801.e25. doi: 10.1016/j.jvoice.2018.01.021. Epub 2018 Mar 3.


Objectives: Health-related factors are part of the multifactorial background of dysphonia in children. Respiratory tract infections affect the same systems and structures that are used for voice production. The purpose of this study was to investigate if the number of respiratory tract infections or the viral etiology were significant predictors for a more hoarse voice quality.

Methods: The participants were 4-year-old children who participated in the multidisciplinary STEPS study (Steps to the Healthy Development and Well-being of Children) where they were followed up from pregnancy or birth to 4 years of age. Data were collected through questionnaires and a health diary filled in by the parents. Some of the children were followed up more intensively for respiratory tract infections during the first 2 years of life, and nasal swab samples were taken at the onset of respiratory symptoms. Our participants were 489 of these children who had participated in the follow-up for at least 1 year and for whom data on respiratory tract infections and data on voice quality were available.

Results: The number of hospitalizations due to respiratory tract infections was a significant predictor for a more hoarse voice quality. Neither the number of rhinovirus infections nor the number of respiratory syncytial virus infections was statistically significant predictors for a more hoarse voice quality.

Conclusions: Based on our results, we would suggest including questions on the presence of respiratory tract infections that have led to hospitalization in the pediatric voice anamnesis. Whether the viral etiology of respiratory tract infections is of importance or not requires further research.

Keywords: Children; Respiratory tract infections; STEPS study; Virus; Voice quality.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Hoarseness / diagnosis
  • Hoarseness / etiology*
  • Hoarseness / physiopathology
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Picornaviridae Infections / complications*
  • Picornaviridae Infections / diagnosis
  • Picornaviridae Infections / therapy
  • Picornaviridae Infections / virology
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / complications*
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / therapy
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / virology
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Human / pathogenicity
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / complications*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / therapy
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / virology
  • Rhinovirus / pathogenicity
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Voice Quality*